NPS Retirees Reject 'Hoffman Lite' Version of National Park Service Management Policies, Warn of Grave Dangers Still Posed by Rewrite

Retirees Raise Doubts About Whether '100 Key NPS Professional Staff'

Have Actually Signed Off on Hoffman-Influenced Draft;

Concern That Fear of Retribution Will Preclude

Honest Critique by Career Employees

Oct 26, 2005, 01:00 ET from Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Washington, D.C.

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- An initial review of the rewrite of
 the proposed management policies for the National Park Service (NPS) is
 getting an emphatic "thumbs down" from the 440-member Coalition of National
 Park Service Retirees (CNPSR), who represent nearly 13,000 years of National
 Park Service management.
     CNPSR Spokesperson Bill Wade, the former superintendent of Shenandoah
 National Park, said:
     "We had high hopes that the National Park Service would heed the virtually
 unanimous rejection of the initial draft of the NPS rulebook proposed by
 political appointee Paul Hoffman, the former Chamber of Commerce official from
 Cody, Wyoming.  Instead of moving away from the Hoffman approach, the
 political appointees at the Interior Department came back on October 17th with
 what amounts to 'Hoffman lite.'  Unfortunately, a little bit of Mr. Hoffman's
 attack on our national parks goes a long way -- in fact, far too long a way
 for those of us who make it our priority to protect America's national parks
 for future generations.
     Not only has no compelling case been presented for rewriting the 2001 NPS
 management policies, but we are seeing what we believe is most likely a false
 claim that the revised draft represents the views of 'more than 100 key NPS
 professional staff.'  We challenge the Interior Department to name these 100
 of our former colleagues who would embrace this only somewhat watered down
 version of Mr. Hoffman's deadly prescription for national parks.  We simply do
 not believe that 100 key/non-political NPS officials -- that is career people
 such as ourselves -- actually signed off on this document.  If they did, we
 would be delighted to be corrected.  We look forward to seeing the list to
 which the Interior Department and NPS Director Mainella keeps referring in
 defending this rewrite.
     Our initial analysis of the proposed revisions to the NPS management
 policies leads to the conclusion that these revised policies are fatally
 flawed at its foundations. Coalition Member Bill Brown, former NPS Historian
 and author of Islands of Hope characterized the new version this way:
 'Tectonic shifts away from traditional philosophy and the intents of governing
 statutes are the general and pervasive hallmarks of these revised policies.
 To polish the apple when it is rotten at the core is a waste of time.'
     What are some of specific concerns?  Consider the gutting of Section 1.4.3
 of Chapter 1 -- The Foundation -- of the legitimate 2001 NPS Management
 Policies.  The attack on this Foundation renders the entire rewrite document
 structurally unsound.  This Section, in the legitimate 2001 Management
 Policies summarizes the statutory evolution of the Organic Act that created
 the National Park Service in 1916.  It is the distilled essence of the
 mandates of the Congress in the light of experience and changing times. Those
 mandates are explicit in resolving the age-old question of priorities:
 preservation and use.  In order to preserve these crown jewels for future
 generations of Americans, the 2001 rules put preservation first, because the
 integrity of the National Park System itself -- the protected landscapes and
 cultural artifacts -- is the basis for the derivation of values which we
 celebrate in these sacred places.  These principles are set forth as statutory
 language and declarations of the Congress.
     But these critical words and declarations are diluted or dropped from the
 pages of the revised policies.  The recasting of Section 1.4.3 results in
 'fuzzing up' and confusing the clarifications of the Congress in the 1970
 General Authorities Act and the 1978 Redwood amendment.  Replacing the
 language of the Congress is interpretation and argumentation designed to fit a
 politically dictated agenda.  These arguments, among other things, equate
 preservation and enjoyment, in direct contradiction to the law on the books
 that puts preservation in a first and logical order.  This regressive shift is
 intended to open the way for more mechanized 'enjoyment' -- so called! -- and
 additional commercialization of the parks.
     Moreover, throughout Chapter I, The Foundation, as restated in the
 proposed rewrite, there is departure from the straightforward mandates of the
 2001 Management Policies.  This straying from the straight and narrow is a
 reflection of the jerry-rigged nature of the revised policies.  They are not
 the product of organic growth, considered thought, and real participation by
 agency professionals.  Nor are they grounded on the true foundation of law and
 intent of the Congress.  Rather they reflect a rush job by a political
 functionary whose objectives are political:  to open the parks to
 commercialization and mechanical intrusions inimical to the dignity and
 preservation of the national parks of the United States of America.
     We believe that if many career NPS employees were completely free from
 political pressure and possible retribution they would more readily admit that
 they share our deep concerns about parts of the newest revision. In what seems
 like obviously convenient timing, mid- and upper-level managers will now be
 more reluctant to be forthright in their comments on the policies as a result
 of a directive released just over a week ago by NPS Director Fran Mainella.
     This directive requires validation that candidates for various mid- and
 upper-level positions in the NPS demonstrate support for Secretary Norton's 4
 - C's ('communication, consultation, cooperation, all in the service of
 conservation') policy and for the President's Management Agenda. Taking
 anything but supportive positions on the current version of the management
 policies could be used against them as evidence of non-support.
     We commend our colleagues who are still working for the NPS who have been
 engaged in a less than successful attempt to turn a proposed draft of the
 policies initiated by Hoffman into something that could withstand serious
 scrutiny in terms of minimizing harmful impacts on the national park system.
 But the current version is still, in many places, the Hoffman version dressed
 in a ranger uniform, and is still not good for the parks. The fatally flawed
 Foundation Chapter renders the proposed revised policies, to coin a phrase,
 irreversibly impaired."
     Wade said that the Coalition will continue to review the details of the
 entire proposed revision of the NPS management policies, and will be posting
 details of this review, as they are developed, on its website:
     The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees
 ( is made up of former employees of the National
 Park Service (NPS), numbering 440 and with more joining each day. Many members
 were senior leaders of NPS and many of received awards for stewardship of our
 country's natural and cultural resources. In their personal lives, CNPSR
 members come from the broad spectrum of political affiliations.  As park
 managers, rangers and employees in other disciplines, they devoted their
 professional lives to maintaining and protecting our national parks for the
 benefit of all Americans -- both living and those yet to be born. CNPSR
 members have served this country well, and their credibility and integrity in
 speaking out on these issues should not go ignored.

SOURCE Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Washington, D.C.